Prince Harry was plunged into a fresh controversy after pictures of him crouched over the body of a water buffalo he had just shot on a big game hunt were published in the British papers today. He appears to have been 'blooded' on the right cheek, a tradition where blood of a species shot for the first time by a hunter is smeared on their face.
The shocking picture, which was taken in 2004, has been circulating among anti-bloodsports and anti-royal campaigners for several years, but has never been published in the UK media before.
However it has now come back to haunt Prince Harry just days after he appeared alongside his brother Prince William last week at a conference dedicated to halting poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
Water buffalo are not a protected species in South America, where the picture was taken, and the big game hunt was entirely legal. However that is unlikely to count for much in the court of public opinion, where Harry and William are also under pressure for participating in a wild boar hunt in Spain the weekend before their new wildlife appeal was launched.
The picture was taken when Harry was 20 and dating Chelsy Davy. He joined a legal expedition to hunt big game, staying at a private lodge in the province of Entre Rios in Argentina on a 170,000-acre ranch stocked with game.
The pictures were published the day after William sought to deflect further accusations of hypocrisy by telling a veteran conservationist he wants to strip all the ivory from Buckingham Palace and destroy it, according to areport in The Independent on Sunday.
Some 1,200 items containing ivory are listed in the royal collection, including a throne from India that incorporates elephant-ivory plaques. The move would seek to encourage other heads of states to give up their ivory stocks and collections.
But art critic Brian Sewell, a keen lover of elephants, said that destruction of art or crafts, was a "menacing response" to the problem of poaching.
"We have to recognise that [these items] exist. Ivory was a treasured material that was worked on by craftsmen of the highest order during the Renaissance …. It's pointless. I can't see the connection between saving elephants and destroying works of art made centuries ago."